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Waders may seem like a luxury to shore or boat fishermen, but make the transition to in-water casting and they will soon become an essential part of your equipment. By keeping you warm, dry and comfortable, they stave off sickness and make it possible to spend hours at a time in mid-river. There are many different wader styles to choose from. If you’re planning on sticking to the shallows, hip waders or wading pants may be sufficient; but if you’re going any deeper, chest-high waders are a must. Bootfoot waders with integrated boots are preferred by some for their heat retaining properties; while stocking foot waders are lighter and more versatile. In this article, we look at the best waders to buy today.
Our Top Picks
Best Hip: Frogg Toggs Bull Frogg Bootfoot Hip Waders
Frogg Toggs Bull Frogg Bootfoot Hip Waders save you from forking out for chest-high waders if you plan on fishing exclusively in shallow water. They are built to last, with a durable three-ply canvas upper and an integrated boot made from tough vulcanized rubber. For added strength and waterproofing, the seams are triple-reinforced, stitched, taped and vulcanized; while an adjustable drawcord at the top of each wader ensures a comfortable, snug fit.
Use the adjustable leashes to attach the waders to your belt so that there’s no risk of them falling down. The boots feature foam cushioning and a hard toe cap and heel kicker to protect you from hurting yourself on unseen rocks and debris. Opt for a cleated or felt outsole depending on the underwater terrain of your chosen fishing area. The waders’ tan and green coloring makes them well suited to duck hunting as well. Available in sizes 7 to 13, the only downside is that the integrated boots make them relatively heavy.
Best Waist: Compass 360 Men’s Deadfall Waist High Pant Waders
A compromise between hip and chest-high waders, the Compass 360 Men’s Deadfall Waist High Pant Waders offer excellent freedom of movement at an affordable price. With a camouflage-friendly color and a flattering loose fit, they also look great. They are made from durable four-ply nylon with 100 percent neoprene stocking feet. Having stocking feet instead of integrated boots means you have to buy your wading boots separately — however, this gives you the option to change treads for different fishing spots and to wear the boots on their own when waders are unnecessary. It also makes the waders much lighter and easier to pack on your next fishing expedition.
The comfortable stocking feet are double taped and 4mm thick for extra warmth, with an ergonomic design that eliminates bunching. The waders come in five sizes from small to extra, extra large. An elasticated back and an integrated webbing belt allow you to adjust them for a custom fit, while the quick-release belt makes getting in and out of them a breeze.
Best Budget: Redington Crosswater Waders
When it comes to buying waders on a budget, it’s important not to sacrifice too much in terms of quality or you’re likely to spend more money on replacements in the long run. Redington’s Crosswater Waders are an excellent value option for those that don’t have hundreds of dollars to spare but still want a product that’s guaranteed to keep them dry and comfortable. Another plus? The lightness of the waders’ 3-layer DRW-coated fabric, which is also fully breathable (unlike many budget competitors).
The waders come with a belt, while reversible buckles on the suspenders allow for easy chest-high to waist-high conversion. Meanwhile, the high-density neoprene stocking feet pair with integrated hook-system gravel guards to keep your feet dry and pebble-free. Use the flip-out internal pocket with its high-quality YKK zipper to store your flies. Sizes range from small to extra, extra large and if your shape differs from the brand’s regular chest, waist and inseam measurements, medium and large sizes come in short, long and king variations as well.
Most Versatile: Orvis Silver Sonic Convertible Top Waders
If you regularly fish in different depths, consider the Overcast/Taupe colored Orvis Silver Sonic Convertible Top Waders. This award-winning option features an innovative suspension system that converts your chest-high waders to waist-high waders without removing the suspenders — perfect for those spring days that start out cold but end up surprisingly hot. The four-layer nylon fabric is hard-wearing and breathable, while an anti-microbial treatment keeps the waders odor and mildew-free.
Orvis’ SonicSeam Technology means that there’s no need for weakening thread and stitch holes. A wader belt and traditional suspenders help to customize the fit, while sculpted neoprene booties mold to the exact shape of your feet. Quick-drain gravel guards go over the top of your wading boots to stop grit from entering your shoes. Best of all, the waders come with two handy pockets. A front zippered pocket provides enough space for your fly box. The flip-out interior pocket offers waterproof protection for your fishing license and is even touchscreen compatible so you can use your phone without taking it out.
Best Bootfoot: Orvis Encounter Bootfoot Waders
Bootfoot waders’ one-piece nature makes them ideal for surfcasting and saltwater angling as it’s impossible for sand to make its way into your boots. Because they’re better at trapping your body heat, they’re also a great option for winter fishing. The Orvis Encounter Bootfoot Waders are made from four-layer nylon tricot fabric reinforced with a polyurethane-based coating. The integrated Thinsulate boots are insulated for long hours spent standing in cold water and feature a felt sole for traction in a variety of different fishing scenarios.
Use the integrated webbing belt and adjustable suspenders to ensure a secure fit. The suspender buckles are reversible so that you can roll the waders to waist height and use them as a belt if the weather gets warmer. When conditions stay chilly, you’ll love the kangaroo-style handwarmer pocket on the front. It includes a mesh zippered storage pocket — and if you need more space, there’s a velcro attachment for the brand’s removable waterproof pocket (sold separately). There are four sizes (mexium to extra, extra large) and seven boot sizes (8 - 14).
Best Lightweight: Orvis Men’s Ultralight Convertible Waders
Part of Orvis’ range for ultralight fishermen, the Ultralight Convertible Waders are ideal for tropical climates or lightweight expeditions. A modern cut reduces bulk so that the medium/regular size tips the scales at just 35 ounces. Reviewers love that the waders are so light and unrestrictive, yet retain the quality one would expect from a leading brand like Orvis. The shell is 100 percent nylon with a polyurethane-based coating, while the lining is soft nylon tricot. Low profile seam construction features reinforcement in high-stress areas and a stretch belt keeps everything securely in place.
When the water’s shallow and chest-high protection is unnecessary, use the magnetic fasteners to convert the waders to waist height. However you wear them, the neoprene stocking feet keep your toes dry while integrated gravel guards help to reduce water drag. In terms of storage, you’ve got a zippered interior mesh pocket and an external pocket with a water-resistant zipper and a cleverly integrated tool dock and fly patch. In addition to standard small to extra, extra large sizes, leg lengths come in short, regular, long or extra long.
Best Ladies’: Redington Women’s Willow River Waders
Although there’s nothing to stop women from wearing any of the waders on this list, the Redington Women’s Willow River Waders are specifically sized and shaped with ladies in mind and are likely to be more comfortable. Case in point, manufacturer measurements relate to bust and hip sizes. The waders are made from a waterproof, breathable three-layer fabric and feature neoprene gussets under the arms for a more secure fit. Reinforced knees add to their overall longevity, while reversible suspender buckles make it easy to convert them into waist-high pants in summer.
These are stocking feet waders, with high-density neoprene booties that have been specifically shaped for right and left feet. The gravel guards have a lace hook and mesh system for quick drainage. In winter, the fleece-lined hand warmer pockets are your best friend, while an internal mesh drop pocket and an external pocket with a water-resistant zip come in handy for storing your fishing paraphernalia. There are five sizes to choose from, ranging from small to extra large.
Best Pro: Redington Sonic-Pro HDZ Men’s Waders
Available in a full spectrum of sizes, the top-of-the-range Redington Sonic-Pro HDZ Men’s Waders are designed with fishing pros and guides in mind. Made from DWR-coated 100 percent nylon, they’re built to last with anti-corrosive hardware and ultra-sonic welded and double-taped seams. A waterproof front zipper with a snap tab makes donning your waders easier than ever before. You’re spoiled for choice in terms of storage options, thanks to a large water resistant chest pocket, zippered internal stash pockets, and a removable internal water resistant pocket.
An integrated tool dock on the chest keeps your essentials handy; while the slim wading belt is designed to accommodate most pliers and staffs. In winter, use the two-sided fleece hand warmer pocket to revive frozen digits. The 3.5mm neoprene booties are ergonomically shaped for unparalleled comfort and have slightly thicker soles for added puncture resistance. Of course, being the best of the best means all eyes are on you, so the waders’ smart clay/dark Earth color ensures you look as good as you feel.
Our writers spent 5 hours researching the most popular waders on the market. Before making their final recommendations, they considered 15 different waders overall, screened options from 8 different brands and manufacturers and read over 30 user reviews (both positive and negative). All of this research adds up to recommendations you can trust.